Some of Catholicsm for Protestants Book Review

Shane Schaetzel

Shane Schaetzel is a Catholic convert from Evangelical Protestantism through Anglicanism.  Schaetzel writes the thoughtful CatholicintheOzarks.com blog as part of his lay ministry to spread the Good News through the written word.  Catholicism for Protestants (2013. Lulu)  draws upon his faith history, his love of language and history along with his religious education to answer some challenging spiritual queries that he has heard living in the buckle of the Bible Belt.  Schaetzel also sees Catholicism for Protestants to be a good primer for all Catholics on the fundamentals of the faith.

 Schaetzel starts the book with his compelling personal faith history which underlies the material. But in an effort to show that there are many different kinds of Catholics, like there are many different kinds of Protestants, Schaetzel wrote: “There are: Roman Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Maronite Catholics, Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, and even Anglican Use Catholics”.  This conflates Churches (Roman, Maronite and “Byzantine” branch), with religious orders (Franciscan, Benedictines). Later, Schaeztel teaches that there are 23 rites in the Catholic Church.  It may be minor distinction but that is incorrect.  There are 23 Churches  which comprise Catholicism.  A Church may have several different rites.  For example, the Roman Church currently has the Roman rite, the Ambrosian (around Milan, Italy) and the Mozarabic (at several parishes in Toledo Spain).   Some might argue that Anglican Use is a rite, but for now it is part of a Personal Ordinariate established by Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI to reach out to High Church Anglican and reincorporate the richness of traditional English Patrimony in the Roman Church. For those unfamiliar with these concepts, proclaiming yourself as a Roman Catholic layman of the Anglican Use could be kind of confusing as opposed to boldly proclaiming the author’s  point of view.

Most of Catholicism for Protestants is structured in a question and answer format which is eminently readable.  This cradle Catholic was able to finish the short 100 page book in one sitting.  Schaetzel does try to answer many common questions Evangelical Protestants have about the Catholic faith.  This sort of apologetic can be challenging as Evangelicals come from a non-sacramental, non-liturgical and non-ritualistic practice of faith so Catholicism’s practices and even its vocabulary can be confusing.  While Schaetzel’s scholarship is evident in the presentation and the supplemental footnotes (pointing to scripture, Church Fathers, the Catechism and some fine contemporary Catholic scripture scholars), his prose does not get bogged down by too much high church jargon.

 [***]

 Shane Schaetzel has done a good job at authoring an engaging and enlightening apologetic aimed at answering Protestant’s common questions about the Catholic faith.  Moreover, the author is practicing his understanding of the faith by his publishing and dissemination method by employing distributism, which favor small mom and pop religious bookstores.

 Being in an inter-faith marriage, I often am prompted to explain parts of my faith to my curious in-laws.  They seem to admire my pursuit of being a good Catholic but sometimes wonder why I am spiritually compelled to do what I do.  Shane Schaetzel’s Catholicism for Protestants will not only offer a clear Catechism but will also give the chapter and verse citations which sola scriptura Christians tend to seek.

 SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US

Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir Review

My most recent review is from The Catholic Company called Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir. This is a true conversion story of how a married ordained minister followed the quest for truth which led him out of the Episcopalian Church and into the Catholic Church. Fr. Ryland, in a detailed format, outlines his journey from childhood, other denominations and into the Catholic Church.

In my opinion, his book reads like an intellectual autobiography which felt like text book reading at times. I appreciated his use of footnotes to back up his points but I also felt the context jumped around which left me confused at times.   I would turn back a page or two to see if I missed something.  It’s not filled with emotion even though he experienced the same confusion, fear and resistance that others have gone through in their journey to the Catholic Church.

Fr. Ray Ryland has been given a dispensation from the rules of celibacy and is a married Catholic Priest.  I was glad to see in his last chapter, that he addressed the issue of him being allowed to be married as a priest. Fr. Ryland does not promote married priesthood and in fact he discusses the apostolic tradition of priestly celibacy and how he agrees with the Catholic Church.  He candidly admits, he is not as free as a celibate priest to serve God, His Church and his parishioners.  I applaud the encouragement and support his wife gave him as he walked this path with them.  It can not have been easy to make this decision even though knowing God is calling him to do so.  It takes courage and faith.

Overall, I liked the book but it took me a long time to read it.  I enjoy conversion stories but I was not captivated by this one.  I think it’s because I found it to be more of a challenging read than a lighter more emotional story.  I guess those are the ones I would choose to read first.  The reason I picked this one was because it is a conversion story and it was endorsed by other famous converts.  Would I recommend this book?  Yes, but with a warning that it’s not a light happy conversion story.

This book was written as part of the Catholic Company Reviewer Program.  I was given a complimentary copy of Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir for my honest review.  The Catholic Company is a great resource for all your First Communion Gift ideas as well as many other great books, rosaries, and statues.

Peace & Blessings,
Noreen

Reconsidering the Assumption

The Dormition of the Theotokis by Svitozar Nenyuk

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the feast when the Church commemorates Mary’s assumption of body and soul into heaven. As the young Immaculate Virgin said yes to God’s call, her body was the first temple for the Son of God. Catholics believe that Mary’s holy body now enjoys full union with her Son in eternal glory.

Taylor Marshall wrote an interesting essay “Did the Virgin Mary Die?  The Answer May Surprise You” which sought to use art, iconography and writings of the Early Church Fathers to clear up any ambiguities from Pope Venerable Pius XII’s dogmatic declaration  Munificentissimus Deus (1950). Marshall concluded that Mary was laid in the tomb and hear death when her soul was detached from her earthly body but that her Assumption from living a sinless life that was totally oriented towards Christ that the Lord allowed for the Assumption of her body into heaven.  Moreover, Marshall concluded that sin Mary died without sin that she was given dominion over Purgatory as prophesized in Ecclesiastes 24. 

Orthodox Christianity also revere the end of Mary’s life on earth. In the Eastern Churches, The Dormition of the Theotokis or, to use more contemporary parlance, “the Falling Asleep of the God-bearer” is sn as a transformation of Mary’s life into a heavenly and immortal existence without the shadows of gloom or death.

There is a persistent legend among Orthodox Christian believers that all of the disciples, save Thomas who was preaching in India, were present for Mary’s dormition and burial. These disciples were said to guard the tomb for three days. On the third day, Thomas saw Mary’s body rising to heaven. Mary greeted him as “My friend” as Thomas was escorted by angels to proclaim the assumption. This tradition echos the Church of Jerusalem’s sense that Mary’s dormition had a deep sense of the resurrection.

Marshall’s musing that Mary’s death involved separation of her soul from her body as well as appreciating the Assumption compliments the Eastern Christian’s notions of the Dormition of Mary. 

Sola Scriptura Protestants probably have problems with theology premised on this Dormition tradition, particularly on practices not christologically focused. However, the Early Church clearly revered this dormition/assumption before the scriptural canon was determined. The solemnity is not a quasi-deitization of Mary but a recognition of her place in salvific history and points to Christ.

Pope Francis meets with Coptic Orthodox Pope  Tawadros II

One of the lesser appreciated virtues of Vatican II is for the Roman Catholic Church to appreciate the riches from the Eastern Church. It is worth noting that when Pope Francis (as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he also acted as the Ordinary of the Eastern Rite Catholics in the region. Cardinal Bergoligio was known for trying to close the 1000 year estrangement with the Orthodox Christianity and advocated on behalf of the Orthodox while in dialogue with the Argentine government. So it would not be surprising if Pope Francis’ papacy features more appreciation of the riches of Christian faith from the East.

Prayer for the Assumption of Mary
Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Ignatian Discernment Found In Homeboy Industries

One of the important charisms that St. Igantius of Loyola brought through his spiritual insights is the notion of finding God in all  things.  In anticipation of the founder of the Society of Jesus’ feast day, the website Find Your Inner Iggy is s running a series of stories about finding God in unlikely places.

The text was written by Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. who discerned his spiritual mission working with the poor and outcast in Los Angeles.  The language may be earthy but by keeping it real, it demonstrates the miracle of finding God in unlikely places.

Louie finished his 18-month training program with us at Homeboy Industries. A gang member and drug dealer, he was tattooed and had a long prison record.

“I was disguised as that guy,” he told me once.

He was now thriving in the new job we found him. He texted me one day: “My little fridge just died. Can you help me get a new one?” I text back: “Sears at 4:00.” He responds: “Got it. Beers at 4:00.” When I arrive at the Sears Appliance section, Louie spots me, gallops over, and gives me a bear hug. “Have they called security on your ass yet?’ “Nope,” he says, “but it’s just a matter of time.” We buy a small refrigerator on lay-away, and I drive him to his small, humble apartment.

Before he gets out, he says, “Can I tell you something, G?” He pauses. “Lately… I’ve been havin’ a lot a’ one-on-ones … you know… with God. And … the Dude shows up.”

I chuckle a little, but he is quite serious. He turns to me, “Now why would he do that?” His tears make a get-away, and he can barely speak. “I mean … after all the shit I’ve done … why would He do that?

While it is good that Louie is getting some one-on-ones with the Divine Dude, he missed out on a key insight which those who take the 30 day Ignatian silent retreat should learn.  Much like a spiritual drill sergeant, the Ignatian retreat breaks you down by reminding you of your own sin but in the end build you up by emphasizing that God loves our imperfect selves. But appreciating this unconditional love can tattoo the heart  and can draw us to build the kingdom of God. 
Fr. Boyle began Homeboy Industries in 1992 to help parolees and former gang members lead a better life by finding honest work.  Homeboy Industries does mental health counseling, education  tattoo removal,  and employment services. 

In 2011, Fr. Boyle wrote a book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (2011) in which the ghetto Jesuit distilled twenty years of his experience into faith filled parables centering on how we could live full lives if we could find the joy of loving others and in being loved unconditionally. 
It is amazing where we can find the divine if we only look lovingly.

Drawn to Eternal Truths–"The Truth Is Out There" Comic

A cloistered Eastern Rite  Catholic monk drew upon his lifelong love of comics to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Amadeus, the nom de plum of the author who is part of the Maronite Monks of The Most Holy Trinity  in Petersham, Massachusetts, penned the short graphic novel “The Truth Is Out There” (2013) to explain the truths of the faith in an understandable manner.

The germ for the graphic novel was based on a conversation that the author had prior to entering the monastery with several cradle Catholics who were born and raised in the faith.  As they conversed, Amadeus realized how little any of them knew the faith.  He concluded that the ignorance of this splendor of truth was a stumbling block for his generation of Catholics.

“The Truth Is Out There” depicts two space aged mail carriers discussing life, the universe and everything at a coffee bar.  As the protagonists Brendon and Eric  contemplate the right path to truth and true happiness , one finds his answers ensconced in the Catholic Church.

Although Amadeus seeks to educate readers, since the characters start at the very beginning readers do not have to possess any faith to appreciate the thoughful ideas which they will encounter.  “The Truth Is Out There” seems to avoid shallow and syrupy characterizations typical of Christian media. And the plot allows the space aged couriers to put their coffee house principles to the test in the real “world”.

The author Amadeus had a lifelong love of comics and was inspired by the “Adventures of Tintin”.  His love of drafting prompted him to become an aerospace engineer.  Yet  in 2003, he answered the call to become a contemplative monk, so Amadeus  tried to put those illustration influences aside for his vocation of Eucharistic Adoration as well as praying the Divine Office and the Divine Liturgy.

Maronite Monks in worship

Amadeus found that: “[T]he moment I entered the silence of the cloister, it was like my head was flooded with cartoons. It was nonstop: I just had all these great ideas.”  With much mortification, Amadeus put the project off for a couple of years.  But Amadeus wanted to share the riches of Truth in philosophy and theology which he had discerned in his life as a contemplative monk.

Initially, Amadeus thought of sharing these insights in an illustrated letter, copying the traditions of illuminated manuscripts.  But he found that too boring and decided to do a series of comic strips because that is what he does best. Amadeus opined that: “The harder an idea is, the more helpful it is to draw it out.”

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI proclaimed this liturgical year to be the Year of Faith.  While it celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the start of the Vatican II Council, it also embraced Pope Blessed John Paul II’s call for the New Evangelization.  The New Evangelization is meant to repropose the Gospel to those who have heard and forgotten the Good News as well as to those never exposed to the Christian message.

Even though a cloistered Maronite Monk seems like an unlikely messenger for a contemporary call to faith via pop art, the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.  Bishop Gregory Mansour, of the Maronite Eparchy of Brooklyn, wrote that :

[S]omehow the words ‘comic book’ and ‘intellectually challenging’ don’t usually go together, but they do in ‘The Truth is Out There’ by Amadeus…Thank you, Amadeus, for presenting the journey from the prison walls of our mind to the exhilarating freedom of the truth in such an exciting way.
While comics are not my favored medium of entertainment or education, if a graphic novel can inspire other readers to see that “The Truth Is Out There” and contemplate eternal truths, that’s wonderful.

h/t: Catholic News Agency

Catholic Homeschool Styles & Curriculum Predictor

Take the Quiz and let me know, in comments, if you think it predicts your style accurately.


Homeschooling Style Quiz: (by Dr. Chen – see below)
Use the following scale in answering the questions. Be sure to circle the number that corresponds with your answer.

123456
That’s not me at allRarely true, only 20% of the timeOccasionally true, about 40% of timeOften true, about 60% of timeUsually true, about 80% of timeAlmost always true


Group 1A questions
I look forward to homeschooling 1 2 3 4 5 6
My husband wants me to homeschool 1 2 3 4 5 6
I love to study and learn new things 1 2 3 4 5 6
I enjoy reading aloud to my children every day 1 2 3 4 5 6
I find myself naturally explaining things to the children 1 2 3 4 5 6
I’m in the middle of reading a book (romance novels excluded) right now. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 1A=______________

Group 1B questions
There is a show or movie on TV that I want to watch almost every night 1 2 3 4 5 6
I spend an hour or more each day visiting friends or chatting on the phone 1 2 3 4 5 6
My husband wants me to homeschool, but I dread it. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I can’t find time to read. 1 2 3 4 5 6
It’s very hard to find time to play with or read to the children. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I often feel guilty about not getting enough accomplished. . 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 1B=______________

Group 2A questions
The inside of my kitchen cupboards are clean and organized . 1 2 3 4 5 6
We all make our beds, put away our clothes and do our chores without a lot of problem . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I rarely misplace things. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I enjoy paying the bills, planning the details of a trip or organizing an activity . 1 2 3 4 5 6
The books in our personal library are categorized so that I can easily find them 1 2 3 4 5 6
The inside of our refrigerator is clean. . 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 2A=______________

Group 2B questions
Usually there is laundry to be done and piles around that need to be folded . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I have a hard time getting my children to do chores . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I want to teach my children but there are so many choices that I don’t know where to begin . 1 2 3 4 5 6
When my children ask me where something is it takes a long time for us to find it . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I don’t know what we will be having for dinner until it’s time to cook the meal. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I procrastinate a lot. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 2B=______________

Group 3A questions
I like to plan things down to the last detail 1 2 3 4 5 6
I like doing craft activities or taking trips to the zoo or library with the children 1 2 3 4 5 6
I think a great way to learn is curled up on the couch with a book 1 2 3 4 5 6
I would let my children do their schoolwork on the floor if they wanted to 1 2 3 4 5 6
Kids can learn more about nature by walking around outside than they can from a book 1 2 3 4 5 6
I hated my textbooks and workbooks when I was in school 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 3A=______________

Group 3B questions
I like the idea of my children sitting at desks quietly working 1 2 3 4 5 6
It’s important for me to know what and how to teach my children each step of the way 1 2 3 4 5 6
I’m afraid my kids will have “gaps” in their education 1 2 3 4 5 6
I want my children to be at the same place in their subjects as the children in school 1 2 3 4 5 6
I like the idea of having just one book for each subject 1 2 3 4 5 6
I worry that I won’t be able to teach my children what they need to know. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 3B=______________

Analyzing the Results:

The average from 1B, 2B and 3B must be reversed in order to analyze the results of this test.
6 becomes 1
5 becomes 2
4 becomes 3
3 becomes 4
2 becomes 5
1 becomes 6

After you have reversed the score for those 3 groups take a final total. Your total score should be between 6 and 36.
What your total score indicates:

6-12 total strongly suggests that you should use a homeschool program such as the Angelicum Academy or Seton HomeStudy. [I’d imagine that would apply to Our Lady of Victory, as well..maybe Kolbe, too. ]

13-18 total suggests you should use a program, but that you could add or change a small part of the program without a problem.

19-24 totalindicates you would be comfortable using some type of lesson plan system that you can modify to suit your needs. Good options might be the lesson plans from Catholic Heritage Curriculum or syllabi offered by Mother of Divine Grace or SaintThomas Aquinas Academy. [Could Kolbe fit in here, too, as it also allows modifications?]

(BINGO!  This is where my test puts me.  But, I *feel* that I meet the description of 13-18 as I do use a program – MODG- but enjoy its flexibility to add in Seton, OLVS ,CHC books and other resources suggested by my mentor, Paola of EmmanuelBooks.)

25-30 totalsuggests you could develop your own lesson plans, but would need support and guidance which could be found in DesigningYour Own Classical Curriculum or the suggested curricula at Catholic Heritage Curriculum.  It would also be helpful for you to examine lesson plans that others have written before creating your own. [ Consider, MaterAmabilis, I would think.]

30-36 total strongly suggests you would have no problem creating your children’s educational program.

If your score “doesn’t make sense” go back and recalculate making sure that you reversed the appropriate scores  as directed at the top of the page.

Quiz designed by Andrea Chen, Catholic Homeschool Mom of six, director of Mercy Academy Homeschool Program (http://www.mercyacademy.net), with a Phd. in Psychology.

It was put together based on her experience and knowledge of tests, measurement and homeschooling. This questionnaire has been tested on over 100 homeschooling mothers and found to be valid.

Do you agree?

in +JMJ+

Allison from

Catholic Homeschool Support Groups on Facebook

Get connected to other Catholic homeschoolers on Facebook. There are a variety of groups.

I am seeing much more activity in the Catholic homeschool Facebook groups than I am seeing in the yahoogroup emails. If you are looking for support and Catholic homeschool info please consider these links to active groups. These communities are helpful and connect us to others like us across the map. 

+ Catholic Homeschool Moms https://www.facebook.com/groups/24164460379/ over 1,000 members

+ Catholic Homeschoolers of NorthEast (PA, NJ,DE,MD) https://www.facebook.com/groups/115513477358/ over 70

+ MODG Moms https://www.facebook.com/groups/29412108736/ almost 200

+ Mater Amabalis(for Catholic Charlotte Mason approach) https://www.facebook.com/groups/materamabilis/ almost 200

+ Catholic Homeschooling Resources https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catholic-Homeschooling-Resources/137231707453 almost 700

+ Totus Tuus Family & Catholic Homeschool FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Totus-Tuus-Family-Catholic-Homeschool/285307812834?fref=ts over 700

Did I miss any? Please add to comments.

Understanding the Ascension Through Art

Ascension Thursday is the close of the forty day celebration of Easter.  Some dioceses have moved marking this Solemnity of this feast to Sunday.   To better celebrate the wonder and mystery of this event of salvific history, we can turn to art.

The Seventeenth Century poet John Donne tended to take an intellectual approach to spirituality in La Coruna. (1618).  The section dedicated to the Ascension offers conceits which prepares the person for acting in faith:

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash’d, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter’d heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark’d the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
While Donne was raised as a Catholic, he converted to Anglicanism in his adulthood.  The verses reflect this sentiment as it uses quitessential Catholic symbols,such as light and dark, as well as the sacrifice of the innocent lamb.  But the final verse emphasizes the personal rather than communal aspect of faith.

Another distinctive feature of Donne’s literary style are his metaphysical conceits. which uses imagery in an extended metaphor to combine vastly different ideas into a single notion.  Hence, the ascension is likened to both a strong Ram to break down the door of faith to heaven and as a mild lamb in a blood sacrifice to show the path.

Three hundred and fifty years later, Salvador Dali painted “The Ascension of Christ” (1958) as Jesus is rising toward an energized and electrified heaven.

Dali’s surreal style of juxtaposing images one would not ordinarily associate in order to create a deeper meaning requires going beyond a rational exposition of faith.  But Dali’s depiction is not devoid of reality, as the prominent feet would have been the last thing that the Apostles who witness the Ascension would have seen.

Dali attributes the inspiration for “The Ascension of Christ” to a cosmic dream that he had in 1950 full of vivid color where he saw the nucleus of an atom.  Dali was an ardent atheist but he later re-embraced his Catholic faith (perhaps after an exorcism) but Dali often fused his conceptions of Christianity  with science. Dali realized that the nucleus was the true representation of the unifying spirit of Christ.  This nuclear mysticism is meant to connect everyone.

Dali’s “Ascension of Christ” does have some incongruities.  Dali was inspired by the atom but it looks like a sunflower or perhaps a stylized depictions of the sun.  Dali was often intrigued with continuous circular patterns like a sunflower floret as it followed the law of logarithmic spiral, which Dali explained to  Mike Wallace in 1958 was associated with the force of spirit in chastity.

While the dove ready to descend from the clouds seems like an allusion to the Pentecost liturgically celebrated in 10 days.  But why is Gala (Dali’s wife and artistic muse) peering out from the clouds?  In other Dalian religiously inspired paintings, Gala represented the Virgin Mary. Historically, the dormition of the Theotokis happened long after Christ’s ascension into heaven.  However,  Mary is often considered the Queen Mother of Heaven and as the resurrection transcended time and space, it could show the Mother of God weeping at her son’s departure from the Earth from her prospective place in heaven.

Other  aspects to appreciate in Dali’s depiction of Christ’s glorified body ascending to heaven is his hands and feet.  Aside from the positioning of the foot, notice how the soles of his foot were soiled, as reminders that our Messiah walked among us.  Also the Jesus’ fingers are curled, which lends some visual drama to the painting but combined with with electrified heavens hints at power.

Whether we are spoken to by Donne’s metaphysical conceits or dazzled by Dali’s depictions of nuclear mysticism, the Ascension of Christ into heaven is a foretaste of what the faithful may expect in our eventual heavenly home.

h/t:  Salvador Dali Society